Over 500 Campuses Reviewed in In-Depth Study of Current Emergency Aid Programs

Over 500 Campuses Reviewed in In-Depth Study of Current Emergency Aid Programs

Research offers five issues that must be addressed by higher education community

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 6, 2016—A new report released by NASPA—Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education offers a comprehensive look at the use of emergency aid by 523 institutions of multiple sectors and sizes across the United States and the processes by which they provide timely resources to address a variety of student needs.


“There are a number of barriers to completion for low-income students, many of which are financial and have low-dollar solutions,” said Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA. “Emergency aid is a proven method for addressing short-term financial crises—anything from a blown car tire to losing a part-time job. Often, $300 is the difference between a student staying in school or dropping out. With these small interventions, we can keep a lot of students who otherwise may never graduate enrolled and on track to earn their degree.”


National Landscape Analysis of Emergency Aid Programs addresses the current condition of emergency aid, challenges and opportunities for increasing the number of students served, and considerations for institutions looking to examine the influence of emergency aid on student persistence. The report—the largest, most comprehensive of its kind—also describes 10 components of robust emergency aid programs. 


NASPA researchers used data from interviews and a national survey of vice presidents for student affairs and financial aid directors from 523 campuses to examine the types of emergency aid institutions are offering, how the aid is typically administered, the methods of informing students about the availability of emergency funds, and the sources of funding.


“Over 70% of survey respondents said their emergency aid program was developed with an objective of eliminating barriers to student success,” stated Amelia Parnell, NASPA’s vice president for research and policy. “We found that at many institutions, administrators and staff from across the campus are working together on this goal, as over half reported high or very high cross-functional collaboration in support of emergency aid.”  


Most of the institutions surveyed (82 percent) have administered an emergency aid program for students for at least three years. However, the programs are not highly advertised beyond word-of-mouth and the need for emergency aid is often greater than the resources available. 


In addition to analyzing the current state of emergency aid, the research identified five areas of concern that need to be addressed by the higher education community to improve the administration and impact of the emergency resources:

·       A common language to describe and discuss emergency aid

·       More policy guidance for administering emergency grants and loans

·       Standardized procedures to guide the development of new and existing programs

·       Improved data usage to identify students who need aid and to assess effect of programs on student success

·       More automated processing of the aid 

“This report illuminates the need for greater attention to the overall financial condition of our students,” said Parnell. “For example, we found that food pantries are the second-leading type of emergency aid provided at two- and four-year public institutions. Although the majority of emergency aid is currently provided to students who self-identify, this research, like many other studies that address students’ financial condition, suggests that colleges may need to focus even more on identifying students who are in need of emergency aid.” 


The full report can be found at: http://www.naspa.org/rpi/reports/landscape-analysis-of-emergency-aid-programs




NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Our work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy, and research for 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. territories.